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White House warns states to expect low weekly J&J vaccine shipments

White House warns states to expect low weekly J&J vaccine shipments
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White House officials said Friday that states will receive substantially fewer doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine over the coming weeks, until the Food and Drug Administration can authorize the company's production facility in Baltimore.

"We expect a relatively low level of weekly doses distributed to states, tribes, territories and our federal channels" until the manufacturing facility is authorized, Jeff ZientsJeff ZientsUS reaching turning point in pandemic amid vaccination concerns Overnight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines MORE, White House coronavirus response coordinator, said Friday.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that Johnson & Johnson doses sent out will drop from about 4.9 million this week to 700,000 next week, a cut of 85 percent.

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The production boost this week was largely due to the FDA allowing contract manufacturer Catalent, which operates a "fill-finish" facility in Indiana, to ship millions of doses of the vaccine that had already been packaged and inspected.

Zients said officials expect a "messy fluctuation," and that he wouldn't speculate on timing of the Baltimore plant's authorization. He said Johnson & Johnson is working closely with the FDA to resolve manufacturing issues at the plant, which had been run by Emergent BioSolutions.

Zients said J&J has completely taken control of the facility, and has installed a new senior leadership team, after a quality control error at the plant resulted in the loss of 15 million doses. 

Once Emergent gets FDA authorization, Zients said that the company expects a cadence of up to 8 million weekly doses in total across state and federal channels later this month.

The company previously said it expects to deliver 24 million doses by the end of April, but it's not clear if that can happen without the Baltimore plant's authorization. 

Zients said the company has pledged to provide "at or near" 100 million vaccine doses by the end of May.